Altruism is often self-serving. Also caring for one another is like caring for oneself – unless someone is egotistical. The lines drawn in altruism just seem too sharp … Nonhumans morally act more altruistic than we humans do, one seriously has to admit. We believe such factors should be highlighted in the Animal Rights discourse, since making this invisible means making agency and social architectures invisible.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy
Aspects in the deconstruction of speciesism
Speciesism > …
- is not something categorically unintentional, even if automatized in peoples thinking for a large part
- is embedded in human history (cultures/traditions), it did not come overnight
- has many forms and problematic facets
- is interconnected
If we look at the foundations of such a phenomenon of species hierarchy (i.e. speciesism), we can see that their fallacies can be dismantled, and that we ought to try to do that.
What does speciesism base upon? (foundations)
Different key aspect of speciesism lay in our perspectives and epistemologies coming from angles of Religion / Spirituality, Rationality / Science, Philosophy, Culture / Civilization, Individuality / Society. In other words the same factors that influence our outlooks on other humans and ‘nature’/the natural world, are influencing factors of speciesism. The conflicts stemming from systems that underlie our (world-)views are comprehensive, speciesism however is an expression of the fallacies of such systems.
Image: Farangis G. Yegane
Gruppe Messel / Tierautonomie, Animal Autonomy 06.11.2018. Specifics of speciesism.
Female-identified human individuals and speciesism, species-derogation, -negation -annihilation or the overlooked problem of “women” and anthropocentric-collectivist speciesism
A.) I set forth following anchor points, before I start on the topic:
- We can ask if the interpretations of the characteristics, that are considered to make up the marking dividers within a human-animal hierarchy, are in reality a negation of the autonomous value of otherness in nonhuman animals.
- We know that the single criterion [against which we measure anything nonhuman animals do] that serves as our standard, is the human parameter, i.e. the human model counts as the ideal, as the standard, for creating norms. So what happens if we put this standard of measurement into doubt?
- Biology has already determined what the identity of nonhuman animals is, and even the Animal Rights movement has satisfied itself with placing the moral question somewhere out of reach by accepting the explanation of the identity of animals as something strictly biological.
(Full text: http://www.simorgh.de/objects/what-is-an-animal/)
The image is severely speciesist. It’s not fathomable why some feminists make that comparison between the “treatment” or I guess rather the objectification of women in advertisement etc. with “meat”? There is obviously an perverted aesthetical connection thought by speciesist rhetorics, but it leads us into a direction which should be further looked at and not just taken by the superficial “meaning” of such iconography.
“Meat” is a solely speciesist problem, unless we would speak of necrophilia and cannibalism.
B.) Feminism and Animal Rights: the one way or the other
“Meat” is not porn and it’s not sexist per se, it is porn insofar and forms of zoophilia are involved, direct or indirect, and sexist where sexism is directly applied to the nonhuman animal individuals or groups themselves. Speaking of porn and sexism here as a proxy covers up how those affect nonhumans directly.
“Meat” is flesh, and it’s the result of a human/humans killing a nonhuman animal/animals.
We should be careful with attaching own sociological issues to such a major own concerns such as Animal Rights in an analogy, which sets itself so close to the subject of comparison, that the story lapses and gets one-sided and a new and important perspective gets neglected instantaneously.
All Animal Rights issues need an own valid terminology and frames of reference, otherwise we are risking to blur the lines of differentiation.
The analogy of sexism and speciesism fails when applied superficially and in an undifferentiated way also because…:
Two main points why Animal Rights issues can’t be tied to a strict feminist viewpoint, as long as feminism is used as excusing women from the ethical responsibilities in society towards their nonhuman environment.
- It’s wrong to presuppose that speciesism is something that is more prevalent in male-identified human individuals compared to female-identified human individuals.
- Also, male nonhuman animals are inasmuch sexually abused, e.g. in the farm industry (their reproductive system) such as female nonhuman animals are.
The sociological dynamics of gender in their effect of speciesist attitudes and actions should be addressed of course, but there is no reason inherent to “biological” gender (if we would go that path) that would prove that “men” or categorically more speciesist than “women”. Also the way in which roleplay is happening in systems of oppression should be addressed, i.e. “women” taking the role of cooks, or preparing the speciesist meals, of wearing feathers and fur, etc. male roles, roles that are swapped, (I am not extending on this here).
C.) Close analogies … also of genocides and speciecides and their deficits
These types of close analogies in the field of -isms and abuse work in a valid way when we look at the psychology of the perpetrator who seeks to create a victim: the aspect of exerted violence shares many similarities, whereas however on the side of the victimized we have to see the contexts: political, enviro-political, historical, sociological, … a group or an individual gets picked as a victim for reasons, and those exact reasons need to be analyzed under own terms, and not be conflated. In terms of speciesism, we face many forms of speciesism (i.e. religious, scientific, legal, philosophical, etc.).
D.) Feminism, Speciesism, Anthropocentrism
Random examples of female rhetorics of speciesism:
- objectification of beings oppressed, animalesque figures made with wool / felt; https://web.archive.org/web/20160323101532/https://www.stephaniemetz.com/portfolioOverbredAnimals.html
- helplessness and helping as an act of public viewing, http://kathyhigh.com/project-embracing-animal.html
- the daily randomness of the gender / nonhuman animal speciesist contexts, women taking/being part, http://huzzahvintage.blogspot.com/2010/10/you-decide.html
- female-identified fans, adherents, students of Hermann Nitsch for example
- female speciesist artists in general, random examples with critical comments:
Is a self-critical view on gender / being a woman / feminism necessary?
What would speak against it? We know that in our daily lives we, as “women”, make decisions that touch on core grounds that turn the private/the personal into the political (https://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/pisp.html). As antispeciesists we know with our vegan praxis just how impactful our personal choices are, and as social beings we also know how hard it can be for us to draw a line between the social expectations that one tries to fit in (in order to find a job, to be liked or accepted, to keep ones social ties or family structures/felt obligations together, and so forth) and our political ideals and ethical, pressing necessities when both might stand in conflict with each other in times of societal change. Our human social environment might be heavily speciesist and we have to get along with it, somehow yet still inspire change, for instance.
Speciesism, as remote as it seems, is to be found at the same point where my-choice-to-decide-otherwise-or-not crosses just any implications of socialization that I feel are ethically unjustifiable. When I rant against sexism I might as well rant against an injustice that targets nonhumans, if I am a vegan anti-speciesist minded person.
Speciesism can be understood to work socially as an ideology, where people who are convinced of their degrading stance, believe in a collectively held fiction that is assumed and agreed upon as “objectivity”, so that no rebuttal can take place on “rational grounds”.
Women do feel at home in this construct inasmuch as men do, on the large scale. Both 50 percent of humanity, male and female, believe so much in human superiority that they are willing to constitute part of a speciesist society by fulfilling their individual part in the fiction.
“Gender” defines itself from interaction within a group or society. Being oppressed as a woman doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t be oppressive towards nonhuman animals. Drawing an analogy between sexism (or genderism) and speciesism does not take account of the different reasons and histories why the victim gets oppressed in the first place – for what ends, and how exactly. If we turn a blind eye on the gender specific functions of speciesism and anthropocentrism we might risk a loophole in our argumentation for our own rights defending nonhumans and for integral Animal Rights themselves.
Speciesism is a unique tragedy. The history of being classified as “animals” by humans, with all that entailed, as beings whose existence had been on earth eons before humans evolved, can’t be compared to any other form of oppression by a strict analogy. Being objectified as solely “animate”, being slaughterable, edible, huntable, vivisectable, being objectifiable and judged as “definable”, in the first place constitutes a specific situation for the affected subject, and hints at a unique technique of injustice taking place here on behalf of the oppressive side that is being applied to this particular victimized group.
Comparisons between different forms of oppression are extensively helpless efforts when oppressor and oppressed are as entangled as in the case of speciesist human oppressive settings.
We could straightforwardly name that natural sciences, religion, philosophy, mass society have to end classifying the beings we call “nonhuman animals”, or we stay stuck in our psychological accompliceship with the very hierarchical and oppressive systems that we criticize so vehemently as what regards our own pains.
I don’t see an alternative as of yet. The ecofeminist and feminist discourse in Animal Rights and Animal Liberation (Karen Davis, Marti Kheel, Lori Gruen, Carol J. Adams, Kim Socha, Vasile Stanescu and so forth) is pluralistic enough to lead and continue their differentiated discourse I believe and I thank them for doing so.
Farangis G. Yegane. Panting: Torsi, Drawing: Werkzyklus Krone der Schöpfung, http://crownofthecreation.farangis.de/
All links accessed 28.10.2018.
For once stop reproducing species-derogative rhetorics by talking about “instincts/instinctual behavior” when speaking about nonhuman animal friends that you seek to defend from reductive approaches towards them. Start developing an emancipated language, an antispeciesist one, in the sense of acknowledging the uniqueness of the individuals you want to talk about.
It’s central to make connections between the categorical trinaries and specific constructs of “animality”, the ‘natural’ word/’nature, and “humanity”, and how those ”further” and reach into sociology, into notions and ideas of liberty, into political environmentalism as a main binding core, … add your own knowledge and insights.
It’s fully insufficient and seems a conscious fallacy to refer to one (problematic) category, that reduces the entity of a nonhuman individual being to the inquisitional restrictions of biological causalism.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy
Every human relates to nonhuman animals, only the most people do it in speciesist ways; they see nonhumans as a means to an end. A specific of speciesism is that as a nonhuman you may be seen as “regular” food. I.e. eating you doesn’t count as a form of cannibalism. The mental divide that human societies draw here is that you may be a generally physically usable source to the degrees where you may be “destroyed” under the utmost imaginable forms of torture and pain.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy
The animal oppression and veganism discrepancy (fragment):
If you look at the way in which meat is marketed and if you see the type of demand for meat , you clearly see the roles types of speciesism [2, 3] play.
People who reject veganism act that way due to their speciesist convictions. Meat, dairy, eggs … are manifestations of speciesism, and thus primarily issues of antispeciesism.
Health and lifestyle might be a driver for some people to become vegan. But the injustice towards nonhuman animals (including their intricate relation to the natural environment), which takes place on all levels of societies globally, won’t change because of the person-centered health- and lifestyle reasons of some people.
There is hardly any other system of structural injustice where as little public outcry is expected as in speciesism: health- and lifestyle-vegans mention the animal rights issue in general on a rather superficial level and usually avoid to speak of systemic animal oppression in a way in which they might speak about forms of oppression that affect human beings as victims.
 “Being food” is a specific of speciesism. The demand for “meat” implies an entire speciesist traditional background. To assume though that “meat”-consumption is a natural evolutionary rationale, is to imply a biologist view on human cultures by assuming their predatorship would align with that of (what we’d call) ‘nonhuman predatory cultures’. Also, there may well always been groups of humans, human individuals and human civilizations who have avoided animal oppression. Even if this type of consciousness would only exist without any historical precedence it would still be equally valid.
 We assume that there are > many forms of speciesism.
Fragments that we wrote about specifics of speciesism so far:
- Where intersections turn crossroads: shared factors of oppressive functions, separating markers. Seeing what makes each case unique might help putting the puzzles together, http://www.simorgh.de/objects/where-intersections-turn-crossroads/
- Specific criterions of speciesist humiliations: (1) designation as a “food” resource, http://www.simorgh.de/objects/criterions-of-speciesist-humiliations-food-ressource/
- Specifics of speciesism: Physis and visible presence (fragment),http://www.simorgh.de/objects/specifics-of-speciesism-physis-and-visible-presence-fragment/
- Specifics of speciesism: History, how we see “the past” and how we preserve “what is important”, http://www.simorgh.de/objects/specifics-of-speciesism-history/
How much “animal-machine” (Descartes) is entailed in instinct-based ethological approaches; after all if you differentiate further you come to see that ethology should be rather sociology. Again political and sociological concepts should replace biologist views of animality … .
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy
No one wants to take responsibility for their speciesism
not the religions, the religious
not the philosophies, the philosophers
not the natural sciences, the natural scientists …
when you when you ask them.
Respecting nonhuman autonomy, respecting nonhuman groups, individuals, cultures, ecologies … seems to be a matter of wilful and an out-of-nowhere-happening sort of empathical enlightenment? The distinct reasons for nonhuman oppression being rooted in our cultures and societies, in our histories thus, are simply being kept unadmitted, undisclosed.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy, specifics of speciesism: no one takes responsibilities
Specifics of speciesism: History, how we see “the past” and how we preserve “what is important”.
Our collectively built historical consciousness, the legacies nonhuman-ignorant communities and collectives value:
- We relegate nonhuman animal history and nonhuman history in general into the natural-historic chapter of basically human history.
- We ignore nonhuman narratives; we ignore positions outside the anthropocentric dogma when they come from nonhuman perspectives, we haven’t developed any comprehension for nonhumanity on non-speciesist levels.
If we chose a nonhuman-inclusive mode of perception and developed accesses to nonhuman notions of ‘being-in-time and socio-cultural-contexts’ in their terms (…), we’d be able to phrase nonhuman perspectivity in our words, without referring to biology or other reductive explanatory segments into which animality has continuously been relegated.
- Museums, when they are about culture, thought, introspection, mental “wealth”, aesthetics: nonhumans are at best a means-to-an-end within these contexts, they are never represented as standing for their own complexity in broader nonhuman-inclusive historical contexts.
- History in itself is seen as a concept and experienced-phenomenon only conceivable by humans, and amongst humans themselves history is being selectively purported.
Memories of nonhumanity, from their and from nonhuman inclusive perspectivities, are being nullified, consciously conceived as irrelevant and mentally achieved within any of the manifold speciesist categories of human- or rather humanitycentered perceptions.
Specifics of speciesism: Physis and visible presence (fragment)
– The differing, specific physicalness of a nonhuman animal is the criterion upon which humans base their argumentation of proof: that a nonhuman animal cannot physically reason to a more complex content than the limit and quality of capacity the humans ascribe to them.
– The biological markers become an absolute-instance-of-ability in context with quality of existence and existential meaning.
– The state of being a nonhuman animal in itself becomes thus supposedly fully explicable, the constructed explicability is so far never taken our of the human-defined context, not even by their defenders.
– Only in mythological and ancient human folklore we find traces of different ascriptions to nonhuman animal physicality (partly also in childrends literature and modern folklore, but to a more humancentric extent).
– The big religious belief systems built their image of the human and god on an equal plane and set that as a standard criterion for leading a qualified reasonable life separate from the state of nature, nonhumans had been even in ancient philosophies seen as the same as ‘brute nature’ – based on their physical difference and uniqueness/specialness.
– Even today the comparison between “humanness” and “animalness” is being sought in favour of humans as the quality marker for reason and ethics, ethics, morals, reasoning, love, relations, socialness, etc. it is not fundamentally sought in different nonhuman cultures – most prominently language and philosophy as bound to the physis of the human, not the nonhuman, whereas wisdom is sought in “nature” to a huge but yet unclear and unexplained extent in humanity.
– The natural sciences were a tool when they dealt with bodies of animality, to draw separations, thus Galen and later Descartes famously vivisected, while basing on a mixture in their thought between religion and ‘natural sciences’ … Natural sciences only emboldened that certain physics are bound to certain existentual qualities, which the human will define and ‘prove’.
– A seperationist culture is being created in human social life, where humanity and animality and nonhuman life is finely segregated, basically and basically philosophically, so that people don’t even think and see anymore, but solely follow the total norm.
– Sadism, violence to the physis of nonhumanity is the warning shot, the societal execution, the harshest separator that keeps humanity an wanted and unwanted enemy to animality (as operating with fear i.e. ‘speciesist totalitarian structures’).